Posted: January 22, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Fifteen high-ranking officials of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will speak at places of worship this weekend to encourage more students of color and other underrepresented groups to prepare for college.

Their goal is to provide information and support for parents as they help their children prepare for college. The event, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Super Weekend, is part of a system initiative to broaden access to higher education for groups that often have encountered societal and cultural barriers to post-secondary education.

"With Minnesota's changing population, we must make sure more students from traditionally underrepresented groups understand that they can and should prepare for post-secondary education and that they can succeed," said Chancellor James H. McCormick.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 80 percent of white students in the state graduate from high school in four years, compared with 40 percent of American Indian students, 68 percent of Asian students, 38 percent of African American students and 39 percent of Hispanic students.

"We began this special partnership last year with several African American churches," McCormick said. "The response was overwhelmingly positive so we are pleased to expand our connections this year with other communities."

McCormick will speak during the 11:30 a.m. Sunday service at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Other participating churches include Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and St. Stephen's Catholic Church, all in Minneapolis; Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, New Hope Baptist Church Progressive Baptist Church and St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, all in St. Paul; and Blessed Cross Church in Zimmerman. Congregations from four churches in Willmar that include St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Paz Y Esperanza Church, Iglesia Manahaim Church and First Baptist Church will meet in a joint session. System officials also will speak at the Somali Education Center on Friday and the Somali Success School on Monday. Both schools are in Minneapolis.

"Many parents find it challenging to guide their children through what can be a complicated process of preparing for and selecting a college," said Whitney Harris, executive director of diversity and multiculturalism for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "We can provide specific assistance for parents in helping their children to succeed in college."

After the services, representatives from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will be on hand to provide information on the admission process and to answer questions.

With nearly 30,000 students of color or 14 percent of the system's enrollment, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the largest provider of higher education in the state for students of color.